Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Grace talks more about her campaign

"Selling Safer Sex in Conservative Burma"
Earning the trust of sex workers is another obstacle for HIV prevention and education. “We went to the clubs once a month as part of our HIV education and Aphaw condom promotion campaigns,” Swe Zin Htaik, once a well-known actress-turned-social activist who works with PSI, told The Irrawaddy.

Selling Safer Sex in Conservative Burma
by Htet Aung
September 1, 2007
HIV/AIDS education efforts face many obstacles
Gasps rippled through the group of young people gathered for a workshop on HIV/AIDS prevention and education in the former capital Rangoon. The girls covered their eyes, and the boys sent nervous glances anywhere but at the front of the room, where an instructor stood before an upright model penis.
“Look at it, please,” the workshop leader urged. “How can you learn to protect yourself against HIV if you are too shy to watch a demonstration about how to use a condom?”
This kind of response to condom education is typical in Burma, where an estimated 360,000 people currently live with HIV, according to a UNAIDS report in 2006.
Today, condoms can be easily obtained in retail shops in Rangoon and other major cities in Burma. But the country’s predominantly conservative culture can make them a difficult sell.
“I don’t sell condoms in my store any more because many of my staff are young girls who find it difficult to sell them,” said a shop owner in Kyeemyindaing Township, who said most of his customers are between the ages of 20 and 30.
Those who do manage to find shops with the nerve to sell condoms face still other social and cultural obstacles. Carrying a condom can create friction in a man’s social and family life.
In response to an interviewer’s question about condom use, a middle-aged man said: “Do you think I am a person who has relations with sex workers?”
Many people in Burma consider it immoral or dirty to talk about condoms and sex in public, and they view those who carry condoms for protection against disease in the same fashion—this, despite the relatively wide distribution of condoms in Burma.
Population Services International, a non-profit organization working on HIV/AIDS prevention in Burma, is the sole distributor of the Aphaw brand of condoms—a central element in the group’s social marketing campaign targeting sex workers and men having sex with men, or MSM.
PSI distributed 42.8 million condoms in Burma in 2005, many more than the 2.6 million distributed in 1996, when its social marketing campaigns began, according to the organization.
Efforts to educate sex workers about the threat of HIV/AIDS remain difficult, despite the success of its condom distribution programs.
To illustrate this point, a Rangoon resident recounted how an international NGO that had launched a blood test campaign at a city nightclub a few years ago had to cooperate with local police, who staged a raid at the club in order to conduct the tests.
Prostitution is against the law in Burma, so the sex industry generally operates out of restaurants or nightclubs.
Earning the trust of sex workers is another obstacle for HIV prevention and education. “We went to the clubs once a month as part of our HIV education and Aphaw condom promotion campaigns,” Swe Zin Htaik, once a well-known actress-turned-social activist who works with PSI, told The Irrawaddy.
She said the organization had to work patiently to build a network among sex workers. once a relationship had been established, the group selected potential peer educators among the sex workers to serve as “interpersonal communicators” at the group’s drop-in centers, where visitors could get condoms and information on HIV prevention.
The sex industry is growing in Burma’s major cities, such as Rangoon and Mandalay, where sex workers are easy to find.
“You can take a girl from a nightclub for 20,000 kyat (US $15) per night,” said one resident of Rangoon. “The JJ and May War clubs are popular places in Rangoon for finding sex workers. But even on the streets of the city, you can get a girl for as little as 2,000 kyat ($1.50).”
In their report “AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2006,” UNAIDS and the World Health Organization noted that nearly one in three sex workers in Burma were living with HIV in 2005—a much higher level than in 2000, when an estimated 26 percent of sex workers had the virus.
However, Burma’s military government is reluctant to admit to these statistics.
“In the period between 2000 and 2002, the authorities warned me that in Burma there were no sex workers, no men having sex with men and no mention of such words should appear in my communication campaign,” said Swe Zin Htaik.
She does admit that things have improved since the regime’s decision to launch a national HIV/AIDS prevention program at an Asean meeting in 2002. An increasing number of education and prevention programs exist, and condoms are more widely available throughout the country.
In addition to PSI’s distribution of Aphaw condoms—which the group sells at a subsidized rate of 5 kyat (less than 1 US cent) but which are generally marked up by retailers to about 50 kyat (4 US cents)—the condom brand Pleasure has also become popular in Burma.
Pleasure condoms sell for 800 kyat per package (60 US cents), more than 10 times the cost of PSI’s Aphaw, and are imported and distributed by Mega Products Ltd in Rangoon’s Bahan Township.
Despite some success, social workers and activists such as Swe Zin Htaik continue to face a two-front battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Burma. They contend with social constraints on the one hand, and the crushing bureaucracy of the country’s military government on the other.
According to the actress-activist, PSI and other organizations need prior approval from government authorities before initiating their campaigns or taking field trips—a process that can typically take up to two months.
Swe Zin Htaik likens her and other activists’ efforts to getting through a locked door. “What we need is the key to unlock the door rather than just knocking on it.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Recent Activities

Breaking Down ‘Wall of Silence’ on HIV and Safe Sex in Burma
August 15, 2007
The once well-known Burmese actress Swe Zin Htaik talks about her recent efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in Burma. She heads a mass media marketing campaign, in partnership with the international non-governmental organization Population Services International, to encourage condom use in the country as an essential means of preventing the spread of the virus. More information, click here

More women stepping into leadership roles
When famous actress Daw Swe Zin Htaik quit show business seven years ago to begin working as a communications officer for Population Services International, she was looking for a way to prove she could make a difference. For detail info, click here

Burmese films short on improved technology: Swe Zin Htaik
Oct 18, 2006
Grace Swe Zin Htaik, attending the Third Eye 5th Asian Film Festival in Mumbai (India) along with other film directors and actors, said while Burmese film stars, directors and producers are competent and have necessary skills, the lack of latest technology and equipment undermine the quality of Burmese films. The Mizzima New Agency reported. Linke to

My Resume

Grace Swe Zin Htaik

15 A, Golden Valley Avenue, Bahan Township, Yangon 11201
(Office) +951-375 855, (Mobile), 95-9-99 26345
(Home) 951-537 813


  • Superior Diploma in Abhidhamma, from Int'l Institute of Abhidhamma, Yangon in 2011
  • Media Leadership Training Program, specialization in Social Content Media
    Production Course
    from University of Southern California (LA), USA in 2002

  • Diplome de Langue Francaise from Alliance Francaise (Yangon) in 1989

  • Registered Law certificate from Central Law office, Yangon in 1986

  • Diploma in Accountancy from Burma Council of Account, Yangon in 1984

  • Graduation, B.Com (I.T), from Institute of Economics, Yangon in 1977

  • Basic Education High School, State High School (2), Sanchaung, Yangon


Technical Advisor Jan 2011- to date

Population Services International Myanmar

Media Development Advisor Jan 2009- Dec 2010

Population Services International Myanmar

Chairperson, Information Committee Aug 2008- to date

Int’l Institute of Abhidhamma (Yangon)

Ambassador for Peace 11 Nov 2007- to date

Universal Peace Federation (New York)

Secretary (Int'l Relation Committee) July 2007 – Sept 2008

Myanmar Motion Picture Organization

Secretary (Women Affair) Feb 2007- Feb 2009

Myanmar Hockey Federation

Member (Advisory Board) Jan 2007- to date

Myanmar Economic Institute Graduates Association

Communications Manager (Broadcast Media) Oct 2006- Jan 2009

Population Services International Myanmar

Joint Secretary (3) June 2005- July 2007

Myanmar Motion Picture Organization

General Secretary, Feb 2005- Feb 2007

Myanmar Cricket Federation

Managing Director April 2000- to date

Communication Services Group Co Ltd

Communications Officer (Broadcast Media) 1999- to Oct 2006

Population Services International Myanmar

EC Member (Bahan Township) 1993-2003

Myanmar Maternal & Child Welfare Association

Consultant, Assistant to Information Officer 1990-1992

IDD project, UNICEF/Yangon

EC Member 1989-1991

Myanmar Motion Picture Organization

EC Member 1979-1981

Commerce Graduate Association (Myanmar)

Member (Actor Guild) 1970-1988

Myanmar Film Council



  • I was an actress by professional and become a social activist by choice as well as become a media personal by chance of luck.

  • From 1971 to 1991, I was actively involved in the making of over 200 films in my capacity as an actress and for over 100 video productions including 3TV series as a producer and director. I was also responsible for the management and administration of small office which handles developing concept, script, story board, production design, finance schedule, producing, editing & post production, obtaining censor approval, distribution and airing through national TV stations.

  • Experience as a participant and facilitator to organize a number of technical workshops, seminar, forum, conference subject to health educational TV production, copyright and media in Myanmar and in abroad.

  • Experience as a liaison between the local government, departments, corporations and the management team to pursue, formulate and explore various entry.

ACHIEVEMENTS: (As a Media Personal)
  • Coordinated to perform Jury Chairperson to Short & Documentary Film Festival, Hyderabad, 2010 in Hyderabad, India in 2010.

  • Coordinated for the launching ceremony of Human Trafficking Documentary by MTV Exit, in Yangon in 2009.

  • Coordinated to organize piano concert with 3 local artists and 2 international artists in Haute Savior Festival De Musiques , France in 2008

  • Appointed as an “Ambassador for Peace” by “Universal Peace Federation” to participate International Leadership Conference, theme on “Providing Vision &

Leadership at a Time of Global Crisis” in Stamford, Connecticut, USA from 9- 11 November 2007.

Appointed to be a focal person to organize the first "Korea Myanmar Film Symposium 2007" in collaboration between Myanmar Motion Picture Organization and Zan Entertainment in Yangon in May 2007.

  • Selected as a consultant/ coordinator on joint project subject to four clean, under social mobilization, between Unicef/Yangon and Myanmar Motion Picture Organization from 2006 to 2008.

  • Selected to participate to “Produire Au Sud” workshop, 4 th World Film Festival, Bangkok in October 2006

  • Selected to be a facilitator to present a paper on behalf of movie industry at National Seminar on copyright and related rights in creativity industries, organized by WIPO, Japan Copyright Office and Myanmar Writer & Journalist Association in Yangon in 2006.

  • Successfully organized to participate to "Fifth Asian Eye Film Festival, Mumbai 2006 by presenting paper on “Myanmar movies: Past, Present & Future” and 8 movies with English Subtitled as a country of focus.

  • Selected to participate to the 60 th Anniversary of UN Animation Competition in Bangkok in 2005.

  • Observed various media campaign of 15 th Int’l AIDS Conference in Thailand in 2004.

  • Selected as a representative of film industry, to be participated at KL World Film Festival in 2003.

  • Selected to present paper on “Health Information for Migrants in South East Asia”, sponsored by Ministry of Research and Sorbonne University in Paris in 2003.

  • Was awarded for the best Visual Effect production for “Condom the Superman” at the Student Film Festival of Summer School Workshop in University of Southern California in LA, in 2002.

  • Won a scholarship to study at “School of Cinema & Television” and “Annenberg School for Communication” on social content in University of Southern California in 2002.

  • Won a scholarship to participate to 13 th Int’l AIDS Conference at Natal University, South Africa in 2000.

  • Selected to be a manager of pancat silat team for participating SEA Game in Brunei in 1997.

  • Selected to participate to the Intellectual Property Rights Seminar on behalf of Myanmar movie industry at Hong Kong University in 1997.

  • Selected to participate to the Intellectual Property Rights Seminar on behalf of Myanmar movie industry at Hong Kong University in 1995.

  • Won a national academy award for the best performance in 1977


Nationality : Myanmar
Passport ID : A 261601 (06.10.08- 5.10.2011)
Date of Birth : 13 June 1953
Place of Birth : Yangon, Myanmar
Religion : Buddhist
Sex : Female
Marital Status : Widow
Languages known : English, Myanmar, French


    1. Mr. Steven Honeyman, Country Representative, Population Services International/ Myanmar

    2. Ms. Silvia Luciani, Chief, Information & Communication, UNICEF, Yangon

    3. U Kyi Soe Tun, President, Myanmar Motion Picture Organization